Germany Considers Ban on Rightwing AfD Party

Germany Considers Ban on Rightwing AfD Party

One of AfD's co-leaders, Alice Weidel (Photo - Zeit)

Date:

Some German politicians and citizens have called for banning the country’s right wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, citing an increase in extremism from intelligence officials following polls showing AfD leading the polls at 34% while the Christian Democrats trail behind at 21% in Germany’s eastern Thuringia State, while another poll shows the party at 20% nationally.

A recent poll showed that 47% of Germans believe the party should be banned, while another 47% oppose a ban on the party.

Germany’s President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, told the domestic intelligence agency that “we all have it in our hands to put those who despise our democracy in their place” in a speech in Bonn where the German Constitution, the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, was signed.

Germany’s domestic spy chief, Thomas Haldenwang, has previously claimed the party has had an increase in extremism, saying, “We see a considerable number of protagonists in this party that spread hate against all types of minorities here in Germany.”


German President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Photo – DFC)

Der Spiegel, a German news outlet, has also condemned the party, claiming “the AfD has become more and more radicalized. It’s time to defend democracy with better weapons” in an article titled “Ban the enemies of the constitution!”

While the German Institute for Human Rights, an organization unaffiliated with the government, claims the party “has reached a degree of dangerousness that they can be banned according to the constitution.”

They further claim the party is seeking “to implement its racist and right-wing extremist goals” and is “shifting the limits of what can be said so that people can get used to their ethno-nationalist positions.”

Some Say a Prospective Ban is Unlikely:

Germany has had a long history of banning and limiting rival parties, however, originating with Otto von Bismarck’s severe limitation of the Social Democrats, citing concerns over their loyalty to Kaiser Wilhelm I and their support for socialism consisting of prohibiting socialist organizations and gatherings, declaring trade unions illegal, shutting down newspapers, and restricting the distribution of socialist material. While both the Nazis and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) banned all other parties not affiliated with the state,

In order to mitigate such abuses, the German Constitution has made banning parties an intense legal battle, which has protected Die Heimat, previously known as the National Democratic Party of Germany and a neo-Nazi party, from such bans.

This has led some to speculate that a ban is unlikely; one such critic is Volker Boehme-Nessler, a political scientist, who speculates an attempted ban would only strengthen the party’s popularity.

“You can’t simply ban a party that gets 20–30 percent approval,” he told the eastern German broadcaster MDR, which broadcasts for the federal states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and most notably Thuringia, where the party has achieved most of its success.

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